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Florida health officials warn about additional measles case

Total cases of measles between Indian River, St. Lucie counties rises to 4

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Health said it has confirmed a case of measles in an unvaccinated adolescent in Indian River County.

The child has since recovered, health officials said. This brings the total cases of measles between Indian River and St. Lucie counties to four.

Previous story: Fla. confirms measles in 2 unvaccinated adults

Measles is a serious respiratory disease caused by a virus of the same name. FDOH officials said the disease is highly contagious and can spread to others who are unvaccinated.

"Vaccination continues to be the best prevention against measles," said Dr. John Armstrong, state surgeon general and secretary of health. "Vaccination remains so important for children, adults and families across our state to protect themselves and their communities from this serious and preventable infection."

The department said it is working with community health care partners and encourages all residents and visitors who have not been immunized to get vaccinated immediately.

Vaccinations are available year-round through health departments in Florida's 67 counties or at local doctors' offices, officials said.

FDOH said people who are particularly susceptible are pregnant women, infants under the age of 12 months and people whose immune systems are compromised.

Measles is spread through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing, and is highly contagious. Health officials said when a person sneezes or coughs, droplets spray into the air.

The virus can live for up to two hours on surfaces or in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed. It can be transmitted from four days before the rash becomes visible to four days after the rash appears, officials said.

A typical case of measles begins with flu-like symptoms. The symptoms of measles generally begin approximately seven to 14 days after a person is exposed to someone with measles and include the following:

  • Blotchy rash
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis)
  • Feeling run down, achy (malaise)
  • Tiny white spots with bluish-white centers found inside the mouth (Koplik's spots)

People who develop these symptoms should contact their health care provider right away, health officials said.

Measles is very rare in countries and regions of the world that are able to keep vaccination coverage high. FDOH said there are still sporadic cases of measles in the U.S. because unvaccinated visitors from other countries or unvaccinated U.S. citizens traveling abroad can become infected and spread measles to unvaccinated or unprotected people.

Children should be immunized against measles with the combination measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, according to FDOH. Children should receive two doses, with the first at 12 to 15 months of age and the second at four to six years of age, officials said.

When vaccinating adolescents and adults, two doses of MMR may be required. People with underlying health conditions should discuss additional booster doses with their health care provider to determine need, FDOH said.

For additional questions about measles, click here.

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